A Jedi For Christmas

Summary: Padme survives childbirth and now is living with her two small children on Naboo. She is alone with her children on Christmas Eve when they demand that she tell them a bedtime story. The bedtime story will be a Star Wars version of "The Nutcracker Suite."

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars. I'm just borrowing George Lucas's characters for a bit. I also do not own the story of "The Nutcracker."

Padmé glanced outside the windows of her home on Naboo. It was Christmas Eve and snow was falling thick and heavy across the ground. She was all alone in the house except for her two small five year old children. Her rambunctious children were chasing each other with boundless energy. They were excited that tomorrow they could open the presents under the tree that had captured their attention over the last few days.

Both Luke and Leia had spent hours trying to guess what was inside the presents and on a number of occasions Padmé had been forced to scold them for their attempts to peel the colorful paper from the boxes. She even threatened Luke that she would return his gifts if he kept up his bad behavior. Padmé was not sure how she survived the last few days with her two children, some days they acted just like their father.

This thought upset Padmé as she watched her small children run around the house. They were all she had this Christmas. She loved her children dearly, but she felt a void with the absence from the person who should be standing by her side right now.

Knowing she was working herself up, Padmé decided to distract herself from her musings. "Luke, Leia, bed!" Padmé called out over their gleeful shouts while she locked the doors to the house. She always feared for her little ones safety, but after all she had been through, one couldn't blame her. She cast a glance out the window once more; drawing her eyes up at the clouds and gave a sad sigh of longing for something she knew she couldn't have.

"But Mommy, it's Christmas!" Luke whined. "Can't we stay up just this once?"

"We're not tired." Leia added, shaking her head so her long brown hair tangled in a tousled mess.

Padmé tore her eyes away from the sky and turned back to her small children. Her sadness must have shown on her face for both her children showed equal looks of concern as they both said, "Mommy, are you all right?"

Padmé's mood lifted at the sight of her young children and her frown dissolved into a soft smile. "I'm fine my little ones, but it is time for you two to go to bed!"

"But Mommy!" Luke and Leia both whined, jutting their bottom lips into identical pouts.

"No!" Padmé stated firmly, then pointing over her twins' heads she said. "No arguments. It is time for bed. Get going, I'll tuck you in."

Both Luke and Leia grumbled, but they knew better than to argue with their mother. However, they made their displeasure known as they sulkily walked towards their rooms.

"Just like your father." Padmé whispered to herself, shaking her head with amusement. Once again this thought upset her and she cast another sad glance at the window in her main sitting room. She was only shaken out of her reverie when she heard the familiar sound of a toy box being opened.

"I thought I told you two to go to bed!" Padmé stated sternly as she caught her children rummaging through the toy box in their playroom. The playroom was a common area for the twins, and off that room were two separate bedrooms for them. This gave them an area to play together as well as a place for them to go when they needed to be alone. It also gave Padmé a way to separate them for a time after one of their silly sibling fights.

"We're not tired." Luke and Leia stated together.

"You will be if you go lay down for a bit." Padmé stated wisely. Her children had been running around the house almost all day. She was certain they would sleep well tonight; the only thing that was keeping them up now was their excitement due to the holiday.

"Maybe." Leia conceded before adding, "But can you tell us a story first?"

Padmé rolled her eyes. "No! It is time for bed."

"Please." Luke begged, his deep blue eyes blinking innocently as he looked up at his mother.

Padmé hated when Luke did that. His eyes were too much like his father's and she found it difficult to deny him anything when he looked at her like that. Conceding defeat for the moment, Padmé sat down upon the floor facing her young children. She then held her arms out indicating they should come to her.

Luke and Leia gave each other triumphant smiles and ran to their mother's arms. Leia situated herself so she was sitting at her mother's left side and Luke was on Padmé's right.

"You two get one story and then it is off to bed." Padmé warned as she wrapped her arms around her small children. She gave them a fond smile, remembering when she used to scoop them into her arms when they were infants. "Now tell me what story do you want to hear?"

"A Christmas one." Leia called out.

"One with Jedi." Luke added enthusiastically.

"No!" Leia shouted with a disgusted expression on her face. "A love story."

"No, Jedi battles are better." Luke countered, rolling his eyes at his sister's suggestion.

"Hush you two." Padmé raised her voice over her children. "Why don't we compromise? How about a Jedi love story?"

Both Luke and Leia gave a weary sigh, neither liking this decision, but the twins decided to concede. After all, the story meant they would be able to stay up for a while longer. So with a simple, "Okay," from both children, they snuggled close to their mother and waited for her to begin.

Padmé smiled and hugged her children close as she thought of what she was going to tell them. There was only one Jedi love story she knew, and another wave of sadness washed over her with the fact that she would have to tell it alone. However, her children wanted a story and this one had all the elements needed to keep them happy. So taking a deep breath, Padme began her tale:

Once upon a time on Naboo, there lived a young Queen named Amidala. She was a strong ruler and duty bound to her people. However, this story is not about the way she ruled her people, but about the greatest love of her life. This story begins on Christmas Eve at the Naberrie household, the Queen's family home.

Fourteen year-old Padmé, Queen Amidala, was taking a brief respite from her royal duties to share in the holidays with her family. However, what would originally have been an intimate family gathering became a large holiday party once word spread that the young Queen would be there. As a result, the Naberries found themselves celebrating the holiday with the elite of Naboo.

Instead of relaxing and playing merrily with her family, Padmé was seated in a chair set to one side of the room in full royal regalia. She wore the traditional Nubian makeup of white face paint with a red circle on each cheek and a scar of remembrance running down her lower lip. Her hair was pinned up in an elegant golden headpiece that did not allow any of her heavy curls to cascade freely down her red dress. The dress was a very stiff and heavy material, trimmed in gold. Had only her family been here, she would be in a much simpler outfit and be taking part in the festivities, but this was not possible since she was playing her role as Naboo's sovereign. The only upside to the cumbersome outfit was that it kept Padmé warm as a cold breeze filtered in from the outside as guests entered and exited the Naberrie home. Beside her, Padmé's handmaidens shivered slightly in their lighter weight clothes.

Once formal introductions of all assembled guests were complete, Padmé sat back in her chair and observed the crowd before her. The older guests were waltzing as an orchestra played old Nubian songs and young children played with toys they had received. Padmé smiled at a group of girls who were playing with a doll, remembering that just a year ago she had done the same thing. However, a year ago she had not been Queen. She no longer had the luxury of being a child when she had a planetary system to rule. Being Queen meant that one had to leave childhood behind, and grow up.

However, as Padmé turned her attention to a group of waltzing adults, she could not see herself as one of them. She might be a mature ruler, but she was not an adult yet. She had nothing in common with the older crowd before her, which was why she was still in her chair rather than out on the dance floor. Padmé sighed in frustration when she realized she was neither a child nor an adult, she was somewhere in the middle, and she was all alone.

As the party continued into the night, Padmé remained seated in her chair and tried to hide the look of boredom on her face. She was considering retiring for the evening when Senator Palpatine came to greet her.

"Your majesty, please forgive my lateness, I was detained by a conference." Senator Palpatine said with a bow.

Padmé smiled at the Senator and said, "No apology is necessary when you are serving Naboo."

Palpatine smiled congenially in response before saying, "Yes, service is a never ending job. Which is why I cannot stay. I have another conference in a few minutes, but I wished to bring a small gift to you."

"That is quite unnecessary." Padmé stated, but her eyes sparkled with excitement.

"It is nothing, my Queen. You work hard to serve your people, including me, this is merely a small token of my appreciation." Then before Padmé could say anything else he pulled a box from out of the folds of his cloak and handed it to her.

"I do not know what to say. Thank you, Senator." Padmé stated as she carefully opened the box. When Padmé opened the package, she found a small wooden nutcracker that was about a foot tall. However, this nutcracker was different from all those Padmé had seen before. He was a Jedi.

The nutcracker wore black Jedi robes with a silver lightsaber hilt dangling at his side, from his belt. The artisan had painted long blonde hair on the nutcracker and given him startling blue eyes. For some reason, Padmé found his eyes mesmerizing. To her it almost seemed like the eyes were staring back at her. However, Padmé was brought out of her musings when Senator Palpatine asked, "Do you like it?"

"Yes." Padmé said, drawing her gaze away from the nutcracker. "It is very unique, thank you Senator."

"My pleasure, my queen. Now if you will excuse me, I have other matters to attend to."

"Of course Senator, thank you." Padmé said before turning her gaze back to her gift. Palpatine's eyes flashed yellow for a second as he watched the young girl lose herself in the doll's hypnotic blue eyes once more. A malicious grin crossed his face as he exited the Naberrie house.

"Here milady, I will take that for you." One of Padmé's handmaidens said, indicating the Queen's gift.

Padmé broke her gaze from her nutcracker once more and looked at her handmaiden slightly puzzled because she had not heard a single word she had said. For some reason Padmé found that looking at the doll made her lose her train of thought.

"You should not be holding onto this with all these guests around, I will put it away for you." Sabé explained herself once more before drawing the nutcracker out of the Queen's hands.

A forlorn look crossed Padmé's face as she watched her doll be taken away from her. She was not sure why, but she felt a desperate need to hold it in her arms forever. Silently she hoped the party would end soon, so that she could be reunited with her doll.

Mysteriously, she got her wish, because almost immediately guests started filing out of the Naberrie house. Soon only her family and handmaidens were left.

For the first time that evening, Padmé rose from her chair and went to look for her new doll. However, before she could reach it, her mother and several handmaidens were ushering her off to bed. As she was pushed out of the room, Padmé looked over her shoulder and caught a fleeting glimpse of her nutcracker standing on a high shelf.

Once Padmé was sure that the rest of the house was fast asleep, she crept back to the room where her nutcracker had been left. She knew it was silly, but in her mind she imagined that he was waiting for her with as much anticipation and longing as she had in trying to be with him. She struggled to move slowly and carefully through the house to find him, not wanting to wake anyone.

However, once she saw him again, Padmé forgot her cautiousness and ran to the shelf where he had been left. Smiling widely, she picked him up and twirled around with him in her arms, almost like she was dancing the way the adults had earlier in the evening. Padmé's long silk blue nightgown swirled like the long evening gowns of the adult women who had moved across the floor earlier that day. The young girl's slippers matched her dress and helped quiet the sounds of her feet on the floor. Her dark curls, now free of their cumbersome headpiece cascaded down her shoulders and swayed in time to music only the young Queen could hear. Other toys littered the floor from the party, but Padmé paid them no mind. Her sole focus was the tiny Jedi in her arms.

Soon Padmé had worn herself out and she carefully sat herself on the floor, still holding her nutcracker in her arms. As she stared at his blue eyes once more she began to rock him in her arms, and hummed a soothing Nubian lullaby.

Once Padmé had finished her song, the need for sleep had caught up with her and she stretched herself across the floor and laid her head down. She pulled her nutcracker to her and held him close as she slowly drifted off to sleep.

Padmé was startled awake when she heard a loud noise from outside. She absentmindedly left her nutcracker on the floor before getting up to investigate the sound. The sound had come from the direction of one of the windows, so Padme cautiously walked to it and peered outside. She should have called her security team to investigate instead of risking a glance outside, but she was certain nothing was out there. Being half asleep did not allow her to fully process the ramifications of her actions, but Padmé was confident that the sound was a figment of her sleeping imagination.

However, to her horror she found a very real threat outside. A dark cloaked figure with unnatural golden eyes smiled maliciously at her on the other side of the window. Before she could do anything, the figure extended a gnarled hand to her in an attack position.

Padme tried to scream in terror, but the sound caught in her throat as she felt a strange sensation in her stomach. She felt as if she was falling. She was not falling, but she soon found she was looking up at the windowsill. The attack of the cloaked figure had not caused her physical pain, but it had shrunk her to the size of a tiny doll.

Padme screamed as loud as she could to rouse her family, but due to her diminutive size, the volume of her voice was diminished. No one asleep in the house's back bedrooms could hear Padme, but a few tiny figures on the floor did.

Padmé ran to her left, looking for a solution to her plight. However, all she was met with were an impossibly tall series of bookshelves and chairs. When she could find no means of escape or help for her current predicament, she stopped, turned right, and screamed in response at the sight before her.

An army of battle droids and their Nemoidian handlers were marching towards her. A young child at the party had left the little figurines on the floor when their family had departed from the Naberrie home. Normally, Padmé would not have paid the dolls any mind. However, these dolls were moving towards her with their blasters drawn at her, and since she was now their size, their threat was very real.

She closed her eyes from a moment wishing to wake from this nightmare. Unfortunately, she did not get her wish granted as the figures drew closer to her. She backed up in an attempt to escape her enemies, and trembled in fear as she heard one of the Neimoidians shout, "After her!"

Unfortunately, at her current size there was no where for Padmé to run. She was not strong enough to pull herself up the stairs and she could not reach the door handles of any of the rooms in her home. She ran behind the legs of one of the large couches in her family's living room, trying to think of a way to protect herself. However, it was increasingly obvious that at her size there was no escape. To make matters worse, soon the battle droids had split their ranks so that they could intercept her from her hiding spot behind the couch's leg.

Padmé tried to run to the leg on the opposite side of the couch in an effort to shield herself from her attackers, but the mindless drones were relentless in their pursuit. The droids simply turned towards the helpless girl readied their weapons and took aim. Padmé dropped to the ground when she heard the droid's blasters click as they readied their attack and her eyes grew wide with fear. Unable to do anything else, she dropped to the floor her arms covering her head as she prayed for her nightmare to end.

Blaster bolts started to hum in the air over her a moment later causing Padmé to whimper in fear from her position on the floor. She kept her head down unable to look at her attackers. She suspected that at any moment the battle droids would find their target despite her pleas to the Force for salvation.

It was the startled gasps from the Neimoidans and a strange snap hiss sound, moments later, that drove Padmé to cast a glance upwards. A bluish glow permeated the area around a figure that stood before her. He was twisting his lightsaber left and right to block the incoming blaster bolts and send them back to their originators. Padmé could not see her defender's face, but that did not matter for her heart told her it was her nutcracker.

A gasp caught in Padmé's throat at the sight of her protector, causing the Jedi to shout a warning over his shoulder. "Stay behind me!"

Padmé obeyed the Jedi's command, unsure of what else to do. She watched with wide eyes as his lightsaber effortlessly tore through the Neimoidians' droid army, creating a pile of scrap metal strewn across the floor. The Neimoidians began to tremble in fear as they watched the decimation of their forces. Without their droids they were defenseless against any opponent, especially, the Jedi.

When the Jedi had cut down all the battle droids and he ran towards the helpless Neimoidians, the alien creatures gave a strangled scream before fleeing for their lives. They tripped over their long robes, stumbling in their flight, but somehow they managed to scurry away.

The Jedi gave a roguish smirk as he watched the cowardly Neimodians run to the shelter of a dark corner. He knew they would not return, and even if they did, they would be no match against him. With a surge of confidence, the Jedi deactivated the cerulean blade of his lightsaber and reattached it to his belt. He then turned towards the frightened young woman he had just rescued.

Padmé was speechless as she stared wide eyed at the man who had just saved her. She knew a show of gratitude was in order, but she was not sure what to do. Moments before she had held her Nutcracker, a simple doll, in her arms, but now his captivating eyes were holding her in place as he walked towards her, as a living, breathing being. Her mind was having trouble fathoming her shrinkage and subsequent events and she gave herself a swift pinch to verify that all was real.

"Are you all right, milady?" The Jedi Knight asked, cocking his head to the side as he cast a look of concern on the young woman. He noticed her face was pale and she looked slightly catatonic as her brown eyes locked with his.

"I… I… I'm fine." Padmé stuttered, running a shaky hand through her curls. Her knees started to buckle from her shock and she was forced to sit down upon the floor before she collapsed. "What… what was that about?" Padmé extended her hand and pointed at the mass of destroyed battle droids.

The Jedi knelt down so that he was eye level with Padmé, but he cast a quick glance over his shoulder to admire his handiwork before addressing her with a shrug. "I'm not sure, but they should not bother you again."

Padmé nodded, biting her lip for a moment before meekly answering, "Thank you, Jedi…."

"Anakin Skywalker." The Jedi answered with a slight bow of his head, causing his blonde hair to bush against his shoulders.

"Thank you, Knight Skywalker. I am most grateful. I…." Padmé started to ramble, unsure of what else to do. As Queen of Naboo, she was generally stoic and refined when speaking with others, but the night's events had truly unsettled her.

"I could not let them harm an angel such as yourself, milady." Anakin said as he gently took her hand in his. When the woman remained silent at his comment and continued to show a look of fear in her eyes, he began to soothingly run his fingertips across her hand. Keeping his voice soft and reassuring, he tried to see what was bothering her. "Milady, is there something wrong?"

"Padmé… My name is Padmé." She responded offhandedly, dropping her gaze from Anakin's hypnotic eyes to the hand that was holding hers. The sight caused a strange tingle to run through her body that she had never felt before.

"Padmé." Anakin let the name roll off his tongue. "Tell me, what is troubling you?

"You…you are just a doll. This can't be real."

Anakin quirked an eyebrow in surprise at this, but was prevented from replying as Padmé continued to frenetically voice her disbelief.

"I must be dreaming. Dolls don't talk and walk. They…."

"Padmé." Anakin interrupted her, releasing her hand and gently bringing his hand up to her chin to lift her gaze back to his. "I assure you this is not a dream. Look into my eyes and you will know the truth."

Padmé's bottom lip trembled. "But, I am supposed to be much taller that this. I'm not a doll"

"Of course not." Anakin agreed with a fond smile. "You are an angel. One who shared a dance with me earlier this evening."

A tear escaped Padmé's left eye as Anakin confirmed the night's events. She wanted to believe it was all a dream, but Anakin eyes were warm, welcoming, and showed no deceit. After all her tests she had performed on herself, the evidence clearly showed that Anakin was right. Somehow, Padmé had become caught in a living nightmare with no hope of escape. "What am I going to do?" She half sobbed as the hopelessness of the situation washed over her.

Anakin frowned as he brushed away the stray tear on Padmé's cheek, his heart broke to see her upset and he promised himself to do all he could to help her and end her sadness. "We will think of something. I will help you."

Although she was still deeply troubled, the sincerity in Anakin's voice brought her a sense of calm and she was able to flash him a weak smile before another voice called out into the night.

A cloaked figure four times the size of either Anakin or Padmé emerged from the shadows where the Neimoidians had previously made their escape. The figures hood was pulled up making distinguishing its features impossible, but a pair of amber eyes glowed with malicious intent from its dark recesses. "I am afraid Jedi, that it is I who will help her royal highness deal with this nightmare. Only with my power can she save herself."

"Only through me can she obtain the power to right the wrong against her." The mysterious figure echoed into the dark room.

Anakin cast a wary glance up at the dark figure as he tuned on his heal to face the stranger. He put himself between Padmé and the figure, to keep the young woman safe. "Who are you?" The Jedi called out to the mysterious being, trying to find a weakness to this new foe. The being's immense height, in comparison to Padmé and Anakin, would be a problem or any attack Anakin attempt to use against him.

"It is of no consequence to you, Jedi. I am here for the queen, not you." The figure then extended his hand to beckon Padmé to approach him. "Come my dear. I will help you return to your previous life."

Anakin called his lightsaber to his hand and ignited his cerulean blade at these words. "Don't listen to him!" He called out over his shoulder to Padmé. "He is lying."

Padmé did not need the warning from Anakin, just by his appearance she knew the dark figure was up to no good. To show her refusal to join the creepy figure she took a tentative step towards Anakin and placed one of her hands on his shoulder.

"So, you choose this worthless Jedi over me!" The cloaked figure bellowed. "Foolish girl, I will get my way. You will join me or I will destroy everything you hold dear." Finishing his statement with an evil cackle.

"No, you won't!" Anakin ground out, raising his lightsaber in an attack position. "Soon you will be dead."

"Oh no, my young Jedi! You are mistaken. About… a… great… many… things." The dark figure let his words drawl out before extending his hand to initiate a deadly attack of Force lightning.

Not expecting the sudden attack, Anakin was caught off guard and was not able to defend himself. His body convulsed as the lightning rippled through his body. The lightsaber he had been holding hit the floor and deactivated at his side as he crumpled to the ground.

"No!" Padmé shouted, watching on helplessly as Anakin screamed in agony as his body twitched in a series of violent seizures. "Please stop!" She pleaded with the dark figure, but the yellow eyes from under the cloak showed no mercy and the attack did not relent.

"Padmé… run… get… out… of… here…" Anakin ground out through gritted teeth. He had tried to call upon the Force to aid him in breaking out of the attack, but the violent lightning weakened his body to the point where he could not fight it. The giant figure before them was too strong for the Jedi, but he could not let the evil being harm the young woman. So Anakin was calling upon the Force to give him the strength to hold on for a few more moments to give the young woman a chance to escape.

"No, I can't leave you!" Padmé shouted as she scanned the area for some way to help her fallen hero. One of the droid's blasters would have been useful, but they were on the other end of the room beside Anakin's attacker.

"Go!" Anakin shouted more forcibly before another scream was torn from his throat. In addition to his agony, he could feel his life dwindling from his body and knew his time was almost over.

"No, your highness, stay." The dark figure countered. "I will dispose of this troublesome young fool in a moment. Then you will be free to join me." He waved his other hand out towards the fallen Jedi, calling upon the Force to drag the helpless body closer to him.

"I will never join you!" Padmé stubbornly replied before dropping to her knees and trying to reach out to the Jedi Knight to stop his movement towards the dark figure. However, her fingers were not fast enough as they hit the floor and she was forced to watch helplessly as Anakin was dragged closer to his assailant. The Jedi's convulsions became more violent as he got closer to the source of the deadly lightning.

"Anakin!" Padmé shouted in anguish, her heart breaking at the sound of his screams. The Jedi Knight had just saved her from an army of droids, but was falling victim to a dark stranger. Although she had been a bit taken aback that her doll was now alive and talking to her, she knew she could not let him die. He had done nothing, but protect her since her world was turned upside down by her sudden shrinkage.

Padmé placed her hands down at her sides, scanning the room for some way to help the Jedi, but there was no tool available for her to use. All that stood between her and the evil figure was Anakin's fallen lightsaber.

Padmé's gaze turned away from the lightsaber momentarily, looking for something else, but she quickly turned back to it. She had never wielded a Jedi weapon, but it was the only thing available to save the Jedi knight.

Jumping to her feet, Padmé ran to the fallen weapon and picked it up, the cloaked figure seemed oblivious to her actions as he was too enthralled in the shrill cries of his victim. It took Padmé a moment to find the trigger that would activate the Jedi's shimmering blue blade, but it soon came to life in her hand.

The sudden snap hiss drew the dark figure's gaze away from the now unconscious, but still convulsing Jedi, and to the young woman running towards him. His eyes widened in shock by her actions, but he waited to see what she was up to. He had never expected her to stop suddenly and throw the Jedi's weapon at him. The Force had told him she would try to lash out at him and he would have time to block the attack. Her sudden departure from this expectation left him unable to defend himself as his arms were still trained on the defeated Jedi at his feet.

With a startled cry of his own, the cloaked figure watched as the Jedi's deadly blade arced toward his chest, burning through his cloak to pierce through his body. In a blinding flash of white light, his lightning attack on the Jedi ceased and his body disappeared with a whisp of white smoke, causing his cloak to fall to the floor on top of the Jedi.

"Anakin!" Padmé shouted, running towards his fallen form as the figure's cloak fell on top of him. However, he did not respond, and Padmé was unable to move fast enough to reach him before the cloak barred her path.

When the Jedi knight did not answer her, Padmé feared the worst and knew she had to find him. Reaching the edge of the dark cloak, she pulled the heavy material up so that she could climb underneath it.

Expecting to be surrounded by darkness, Padmé was startled by the bright white snow that covered the ground before her. It was as if she had stepped into another world. On the outside of the cloak was her family home, but within the cloak was a snowy wonderland that seemed to stretch on for miles. Above her where the top of the cloak should have been was a vast starry sky with a distant moon providing her enough light to see across the landscape. Turning back towards the edge of the cloak, she saw that it had faded into nothingness, not allowing her to move back to her home. This would have been disconcerting, but her focus was on finding her Jedi protector.

Padmé stared in awe at her surroundings for a moment before shivering slightly as a brisk wind kicked up a few snowflakes. She did not understand why this new world existed, but she knew the Jedi who had saved her was somewhere out there and she had to find him. Hugging her arms together to stave off the chill, Padmé slowly began a trek through the snow, periodically calling out to her Jedi hero.

Padmé walked for approximately fifteen minutes with no sign of Jedi Skywalker anywhere. With each step she took and the colder it became, she grew more and more concerned about his safety. In the back of her mind, she also wondered what she would do I she did not find him as she was not sure how she could escape this world before she froze to death.

Padmé continued her trek for another minute before giving a great shout as she slid across a patch of ice hidden underneath the freshly fallen snow. She landed on her hands and knees on the frozen ground, causing a sharp pain to run through her body. The young queen grumbled slightly as she pushed herself up and brushed the snow off her nightgown.

Just as she finished removing the last of the snow from her clothing, she realized her body felt different. She did not look any different from her first inspection, but that was before she saw her reflection. A glimmer of moonlight sparkled off the ice patch that had just caused her fall and caught Padmé's eye. Turning towards it, Padmé gasped in surprise at what she saw.

The face looking back at her was her own, but it looked different. She looked like she had aged ten years. Gone were her childlike features as they were replaced by the face of a grown woman. Padmé had often complained that at the age of fourteen she felt trapped somewhere between being a child and a woman, and it seemed that whatever had happened to her on this strange night had remedied it for her. She was now a woman.

Another shiver ran through Padmé, caused by the cold and her amazement at yet another strange occurrence. However, she was not able to dwell on this for long for in her next breath, two strong arms wrapped a heavy Jedi cloak around her shoulders.

"Are you cold, milady?" Anakin's familiar voice sounded behind her.

"Anakin!" Padmé stated on a startled gasp, turning towards him. Her heart beat wildly at the sight at him. In her first encounter with him, she had just seen him as her hero, a brave knight trying to save a young girl. However, that young girl had been replaced by a woman and now her chocolate eyes drank in the sight of a man, a very attractive man.

Anakin took a step back, startled by the change in Padmé's appearance. For a moment he believed he had made mistaken the woman's identity for Padmé's, but the chocolate orbs that stared back at him were undeniably the young queen's.

"Is… Is that you?" Anakin asked, taking a tentative step closer to the young woman.

"Yes." Padmé replied weakly, as her eyes took in the sight of the Jedi's physique. "Are… are you all right?"

"Yes, thanks to you. You truly are an angel." Anakin's eyes sparkled as his initial surprise from Padmé's change in appearance faded. The young queen had been a beauty, but it seemed heightened at the moment. He inched closer to her, longing to wrap his arms around her to stop the shivers she gave in reaction to the cold weather.

Padmé's heart rate quickened and she held her breath in anticipation as Anakin drew closer to her, but she exhaled that breath with disappointment as he stopped his movement and shook his head.

Anakin did not know what was coming over him. A Jedi controlled their feelings and he was acting like a lovesick youngling over a woman who had previously been a fourteen year old girl. He had felt strong, protective feelings for the young girl since their initial meeting, but somehow those emotions had warped into great desire as he gazed at the woman before him. He could not understand this change in his feelings. "What… what happened to you?"

Padmé glanced down at herself self consciously and shrugged, "That evil figure's cloak fell on top of you after I hit it with your lightsaber. I climbed under it to look for you and ended up here and in this state. I cannot explain it. Do you know where we are?"

"It looks like the Hoth system based on the stars." Anakin replied, casting a glance up at the sky. "Not sure how the cloak got us here, but we will have to find a way to get you back home." Anakin finished his statement by casting his eyes to the ground, just looking at Padmé made his heart flutter.

"I… I guess." Padmé replied meekly, unsure of what else to say.

"Once you are safe, I will take my leave and return to the Jedi Temple."

"You are leaving?" Padmé asked, a hint of desperation in her voice. Something in her heart told her she could not let the Jedi in front of her leave her side.

"Yes, milady." Anakin chanced a glance up at Padmé's face, a frown crossing his features as he saw her distressed look. His heart ached to see her upset and once again he longed to take her into his arms and cast her fears aside, but as a Jedi he could not do that.

An awkward silence fell between Anakin and Padmé as the two simply gazed at one another, both fighting their feelings for one another. Trying to break the uneasy tension, Anakin cleared his throat before saying, "I would like the thank you again…."

Anakin's words were cut short when Padmé flung her arms around his neck and captured his lips with hers. She did not know what drove her to such an act. She had never kissed a man before, but something told her she could not let this one go. She needed him and although he was trying to deny it he needed her as well. The events that had brought them together were very strange, but Padmé told herself it must have been done for a reason and the feel of his lips against hers seemed like a great reason at the moment.

Anakin stiffened at Padmé's abrupt kiss. For a moment he considered pushing her away, but the feel of her tiny body pressed against his felt right. This feeling and the sound of an agreeable moan passing from Padmé's lips vanquished any further protests from Anakin and he wrapped his arms around the woman and deepened their kiss.

"Oh milady, my angel." Anakin whispered breathlessly as his lips parted from Padmé.

"Anakin." Padmé whispered on a sigh, leaning back into him to capture his lips once more. "I love you." She murmured as she twined her fingers in his hair. If she had taken some time to think about this, she would have realized that her relationship with the Jedi was moving extremely fast, but at the moment she did not care. All she knew was that the feel of the Jedi's arms around her felt right.

Anakin's heart beat frantically in his chest as he held Padmé close to him. "And I you, my angel." He kissed the top of her forehead tenderly. He had told her he would find a way to get her back to her home and then leave her, but he knew he could not do that. The Force had brought them together for a reason and the closeness of her seemed to wash away any arguments he had about performing his Jedi duty. The feel of her lips against his had electrified his soul and showed him there was more to life than just the Jedi code.

"Don't leave me." Padmé mumbled into Anakin's chest, a hint of desperation in her voice.

"I'm here." Anakin replied, gently cupping Padmé's face so that she could stare up at him.

"No, not now. Don't leave me alone on Naboo; I want to stay with you."

Anakin smiled down and responded by capturing her bottom lip in another tender kiss. "You have captured my heart, milady. Even wild rancors could not tear me from your side. I will leave the Jedi Order to be with you."

Padmé blinked a few times as the ramifications of his words hit her. She shook her head sadly as she dropped her gaze to the snow covered ground. "It would be selfish of me to ask you to do that."

"No." Anakin stated softly, lifting her chin so he could lose himself in her eyes. "I would be lying to myself if I chose them over you. I love you."

Both Padmé's heart and stomach fluttered at Anakin's declaration. "But you are a great Jedi, the Order needs you."

"But I need you." Anakin countered. "We can speak with the Council if you would like, but in the end I choose you."

Padmé flashed a wide smile as she hugged Anakin closely to her. The knowledge that they would not be parted once they left this planet made her heart soar, but the euphoria from that feeling quickly faded when she came to a realization. "How… how are we going to get out of here?"

"I do not know." Anakin replied truthfully. A gust of wind blew past them, making Anakin's Jedi cloak that was draped around Padmé's shoulders flutter amidst the swirling snow flakes. Both people shivered slightly as their bodies were reminded of the planet's frosty chill. Knowing he needed time to think of a solution, Anakin suggested the only thing he could. "We'll find a way, but it is getting late and we need to find some shelter for the night."

"All right." Padmé replied softly while allowing Anakin to steer her towards the horizon. They walked in silence for a long time only stopping when Anakin spotted the hilt of his lightsaber sticking out of a snow bank. Neither Anakin or Padmé was sure how it had gotten their, but they were glad to find it They had heard some strange animal noises in their stroll through the snow and both felt better knowing they had some means of protecting themselves.

After walking for nearly an hour in the frigid temperature, Padmé began to sway slightly on her feet as a wave of drowsiness overtook her.

Sensing her exhausted state, Anakin scooped her up into his arms letting her rest her head on his chest as he continued to look for a shelter from the cold. That shelter was not spotted for almost another hour when the Jedi knight found a cave jutting out of the snow.

Anakin ran towards the cave, anxious to get out of the cold weather. He had the Force to help regulate his body temperature, but even his enhanced abilities had limits in the Hoth system. As Anakin moved into the cave he used the Force to check for any predators living inside and was relieved to find none. However, he lit his lightsaber and laid it before him as he settled himself against a cave wall, Padmé cradled in his arms. Not only would the lightsaber help give them some heat to keep warm, but it would also ward off any potential beasts who approached him.

Settling his head against the cave wall and giving a great yawn, Anakin murmured, "I love you, my angel." He then closed his eyes as he fell into a light doze, letting his body rest from their lengthy journey.

In his arms, Padmé shifted slightly, snuggling closer to the warmth of Anakin's body as she pulled his Jedi cloak over the both of them to block out the frigid air. With a content and sleepy sigh she replied to him, "I love you too."

Padmé stretched as she woke up the next morning. She was toasty warm wrapped up in Anakin's Jedi cloak and she gave a yawn as she tried to snuggle back against him, but all Padmé encountered was a soft pillowed cushion rather than the hard strong body she expected to feel.

"Good of you to join us, milady." A gravelly voice a few feet away called out.

Padmé's eyes opened as she jumped with a start, pushing herself up from the pillowed lounger she had been laid upon. She scanned the room and spotted a mysterious man standing before her. A dark cloak was draped around him, but the hood was pulled back to reveal the grisly visage of an old and deformed man. Deep wrinkles were set in his face and his eyes glowed with a malevolent amber hue.

The strange man smiled at Padmé, but she never noticed, her gaze was diverted to the figure chained to a wall several feet from the figure.

"Anakin!" Padmé shouted as she sprang from her chair and taking no heed for her own safety, ran past the strange cloaked man to the Jedi knight.

For his part, Anakin tried to move towards Padmé and shout a warning, but he had been bound and gagged. Force resistant manacles held his arms and legs splayed to his sides while a force dampening collar chained his neck to the wall rendering the Jedi immobile. A gag had also been tied tightly around the Jedi's head only allowing him to make inarticulate noises as he struggled against his bonds.

Anakin was not sure how they had got into this predicament; he had found himself chained when he woke up this morning. Somehow during the middle of the night someone had moved both himself and Padmé off the icy planet and to what looked like a grand palace. The room was decorated in lavish crimson and gold fabrics, with rich mahogany furniture spread everywhere. Next to a large intricately carved throne, Anakin had spotted a small chaise lounger where Padmé was resting. When Anakin had tried to struggle out of his bonds to reach Padmé, who was several feet away, the strange cloaked figure had come in to taunt him while both men waited for her to awaken.

Anakin continued to shout incoherently at Padmé when she had reached him and began to futilely struggle to release his bonds.

An evil cackle sounded behind her. "There is no reason to worry my dear; your Jedi companion is not going anywhere."

"Who are you?" Padmé barked angrily, turning from Anakin to stare at the strange figure across the room. Behind her Anakin struggled against his bonds trying and failing to warn her to run.

"I am the ruler of all you see before you and soon the galaxy at large." The cloaked figure turned on his heel and walked towards his throne.

As the man sat down on his throne, Padmé repeated her previous question. "I still don't know who you are, but I order you to release this Jedi knight." She cast a fleeting glance back at Anakin before turning back towards the cloaked man.

"I will release the Jedi in time, but first I have an offer to propose to you."

"I want nothing you have to give. I want the Jedi freed." Padmé stated firmly, a hint of a growl in her voice.

"And free he can be, if you will listen. I am Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, and a far more powerful Force user than your Jedi companion. My servants located you in that abandoned cave on Hoth and brought the two of you here. I had foreseen your arrival years ago and have big plans for you milady. Please take a seat and listen." The cloaked man pointed at the lounger next to him.

Padmé did not feel comfortable sitting next to the old man, but she did take a tentative step away from Anakin, eliciting a strangled murmur from him. "I would much rather stay here. What is your business?"

"Power. I offer you the power to control the galaxy." The figure replied softly.

"I do not want that. All I want is for you to release Anakin so that the two of us can leave here."

"You wish to start a future with this foolish Jedi," The Sith scoffed. "I have seen your future with him milady, it does not end well. The Jedi will take him away from you and you will be helpless to stop it. Only through my power can you change that."

"I doubt that." Padmé replied sternly. She began glancing around the room for something to protect herself from this dark man and a way to release Anakin from his bonds. Unfortunately her only solution, Anakin's lightsaber, was clutched in the gnarled hand of the Sith Lord.

The Sith Lord cackled once more. "You are strong willed, milady, an excellent quality in a Sith. If you join me not only can you have the galaxy, but your precious Jedi as well. The Jedi Order will not be able to interfere with the two of you. All you have to do is take your place by my side. Rule the galaxy with me."

"Never!" Padmé shouted. "I will take my chances with the Jedi Order, but I will never join you. Now release Anakin!"

The Sith's eyes momentarily showed disappointment, but the Sith was not done. The Queen of Naboo might have failed to share his lust for power, but he could still win in the end and she would pay for her lack of vision. "Your love for the Jedi is very strong, milady."

Padmé took a deep breath and squared her shoulders as she looked at the Sith coolly. "Glad you noticed, now are you going to release him?" Behind her, Anakin continued to fight his bonds.

"You have proven your love is strong. I cannot deny it." The Sith Lord stood from his chair and began to approach Anakin and Padmé. He left Anakin's lightsaber resting on the arm of his throne. "Such love is difficult to break." The Sith casually shrugged out of his cloak, revealing a blood red, regal robe. "I will release him." With a wave of the Sith's right hand, Padmé heard a click as Anakin's bonds were released.

"Padmé!" Anakin called out, his gag untying from behind his head. Having been released so suddenly, his balance was unsteady and he stumbled towards her.

Padmé turned toward Anakin and beamed as she held her arms out to him. He caught her as he stumbled into her arms and spun her around away from the Sith Lord, as he regained his footing. Anakin was anxious to put as much distance between them and the Sith as possible, but overcome with emotion Padmé leaned in to capture his lips in a swift kiss.

"You chose not to join me, milady." The Sith growled as he took a few brisk steps toward the lovers. "You will pay for that!"

Anakin whirled around immediately to protect Padmé from the Sith's advance, but before he could call his lightsaber hilt to him, the Sith threw his dark cloak at Anakin's chest.

Anakin easily threw the cloak off of himself, but still collapsed to the floor in agony. He felt like his skin was on fire. Padmé screamed in terror as she saw the pain etched on Anakin's face and she knelt down beside him looking for a way to help him. Above her, the Sith's gleeful cackles filled the room, "Your Jedi is now mine, milady. If you had joined me, you could have had him, but now you will face the consequences of your decision."

"Anakin!" Padmé called out, noticing that large dark patches where the cloak had been were blotched across Anakin's clothing. Additionally, as the Sith continued to cackle the blotches began to seep into his clothing and crept up his flesh.

Anakin screamed in agonized pain from his position on the floor. "Padmé, run!" He ground out as he raised his left hand to his face and watched as his fingertips were consumed by inky darkness.

"No!" Padmé screamed, as she drew Anakin into her arms.

"It is too late, your highness. You should have joined me. In a matter of moments he will be consumed by the dark side of the Force." The Sith Lord pronounced.

"Padmé, go! I can't stop it! Save yourself." Anakin pleaded with pain filled gasps.

"No, stay with me!" Padmé sobbed as she could see the darkness creeping up Anakin's neck and towards his face. "I love you." Padmé cried, tears falling down her face as she did not know what she could do to save Anakin from the darkness.

"Go!" Anakin pleaded once more through gritted teeth.

"No." Padmé shook her head before repeating, "I love you." She clutched one of Anakin's blackened hands and pressed it to her heart, wishing that this nightmare would end and before she could repeat her declaration of love again, the Force granted her wish.

Fourteen year old Padmé woke up with a start on the floor of her parent's home, panting out, "I love you."

Padmé gasped for breath as she looked around the room. She was no longer shrunk, but her normal size. It appeared that her adventure with Anakin had all been a dream, but as she looked down on the floor for a sign of her Jedi nutcracker, she could not find him.

"Anakin!" Padmé called out to her doll, searching under all the furniture and every shelf for him, but there was no sign of him. Her frantic search continued for another five minutes while she scoured the adjacent rooms for him, but like before there was no sign of the Jedi or his doll form.

She checked every room three times, even silently creeping into the rooms of her sleeping family members, but there was no sign of her nutcracker. Tears flooded Padmé's eyes as she returned to her family's sitting room and collapsed on one of the couches. There was no denying it, her beloved Jedi was gone.

"But mommy… what happened to the Jedi?" Leia asked, upset by the ending of her mother's story.

"He couldn't have vanished. The Jedi are stronger than the Sith, what happened to him." Luke added equally as upset as his sister.

"Well…" Padmé began tentatively, questioning her judgment at telling her children this specific story. However, it was too late to change that now. "Well… Padmé cried herself to sleep on her parents couch that night. And when she dreamed again, she dreamed of her Jedi."

"And…" Luke and Leia prodded anxiously, both holding their breath in anticipation of the ending.

"And Padmé's love pushed the darkness away, allowing the Jedi to kill the Sith Lord and he and Padmé lived happily ever after." A deep masculine voice from the doorway finished for his wife.

Padmé, Luke, and Leia's heads whipped around instantaneously to see Anakin leaning against the door jam of the twins' playroom, a roguish smile on his face.

"Daddy!" Luke and Leia shouted and they leapt from their position in their mother's lap and launched themselves at their father. Anakin knelt down so he could catch his children in a hug. Padmé got up from her position on the floor, not believing her husband was really there and looking at him skeptically.

"Daddy always has the best endings to stories." Leia stated, her eyes twinkling at her father.

"Only because your mother sets them up that way." Anakin replied.

"I thought you were on a mission and would not be home for Christmas." Padmé stated softly as she stepped up to her husband. Anakin gently let his children go and ruffled their hair as he stood up to meet Padmé's eyes.

Anakin shrugged before grinning widely. "I finished early and decided to surprise you."

"Did you have to use aggressive negotiations?" Luke asked excitedly.

Anakin bit his bottom lip as Padmé looked sternly back at her husband. "What exactly do you tell him you do?"

"Ummm….No son, things went smoothly." Anakin replied lamely, sheepishly moving his gaze to the floor before attempting to flash another smile at his wife. When she did not return the smile, Anakin decided to take another track. "You know, R2 told me he sensed a jolly old man in a snow speeder heading this way."

The twins eyes blinked for a moment in recognition before both were shouting, "Time for bed! He won't bring presents if we aren't asleep." They then ran to their bedrooms, jumping into bed and pulling the covers over themselves. "Goodnight Mommy! Goodnight Daddy!" The twins called out before resting their heads on their pillows.

Padmé laughed at her children, "Now why didn't I think of that?"

"Because you were too distracted by the search for your nutcracker." Anakin teased as he drew Padmé into his arms.

"Yes, well I found him now." Padmé murmured softly as she wrapped her arms around Anakin's neck and drew his lips to hers for a kiss.

"Go to sleep!" Luke and Leia shouted from their bedrooms. "We won't get presents if somebody is awake."

Anakin and Padmé both chuckled as they broke away from their kiss. "All right you two, we're going." Anakin shouted as he scooped Padmé into his arms. "Merry Christmas." They both finished together as Anakin strolled towards his and Padmé's own bedroom. Luke and Leia would both be up early in the morning, but neither Anakin nor Padmé minded for they would be together as a family this Christmas.

The End